Teen Tech Tip #32: QR Marks the Spot 
Welcome back to the blog. Thanks for joining us for the Library's Teen Summer Reading and our summer series here at the blog. We had so much fun experimenting with science!

Now that summer has moved into the school year, we are going to continue with our original mission of delivering posts revolving around technology. For our first week back, we are going to look a fun project that you can do on your own for a school project or fun with your friends and family: making a QR code scavenger hunt!

You may have joined us for a hunt this summer at the Library's Teen Survivor Night and Animecon X.



A Little QR History


First developed by a subsidiary of Toyota in the mid-1990s, QR codes (short for Quick Response Code) were initially designed to track vehicle parts during manufacturing (much like a grocery scanner tracks inventory from UPC codes). Due to the high amount of data that can be stored, QR codes were adopted for other applications, most notably the advertising industry. QR codes can hold a URL address that, when scanned with a smartphone, takes the user directly to a website. This makes accessing a site much quicker that manually typing the site address and utilizing a search engine.

There are multiple free apps that you can use to scan and retrieve information from QR codes. To find one, search your App marketplace, any of the free apps will work just fine.

Since QR codes can hold large types of data (like really long URL addresses), they are the perfect tool for creating a digital scavenger hunt.

What do QR Codes have to do with Scavenger Hunts, exactly?


Since QR's can hold data types, like URL addresses, you can set up a website that holds information leading a seeker toward clues. Try scanning or clicking the code at the top of the page .

When the user scans a QR, they are taken to a web page that holds the information that will lead them to the next code. When they scan the next code, they will be taken to another webpage that has all the information for finding another clue until they reach the end.

Making Your own Scavenger Hunt


To make your own scavenger hunt, you'll first need to make your own website with as many pages as you have clues. For more information on making your own site, click here. (We used Weebly.com to quickly create our own free site)

Next, transform all the URL address for each page of your site into a QR code. We used goo.gl URL shortener. Just click details under the shortened URL after verifying the captcha. You will be able to save the QR image for the hunt.

Print and hide the QR's within the parameters of the hunt boundaries, and edit the pages to give clues to the next code. Be sure to hide the pages on the home page when editing your site, or else the player can simply click the link to the last clue and find the prize.

A Hunt of Epic Proportions


If you can't get enough of scavenger hunts, give Munzee a shot. This combines QR hunts with GPS technology to lead you to hides in 50 different countries. This does require you to have an additional device with a GPS receiver, but most smartphones have that.

Awesome Treasure Hunt Reads

If you enjoy seeking treasure or a good scavenger hunt, then be sure to check out these great books from your Library. Special thanks to Heather at the St. Matthews Library and Lindsay at Southwest for the reading recommendations!

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Homework Help 
School is back in session, and with the new year comes reading, homework, projects, and other important assignments. Regardless of your grade, whether you’re beginning sixth grade or working on graduating high school, there are numerous tools to aide with homework or help you brush up on any academic subjects.

Today we will discuss the information that you can access through the Library’s Research Tools and Jefferson County Public School's Practice Your Skills. There are different Practice Your Skills sections for each level of education Elementary, Middle, and High once you click on the Students link from the JCPS website.

By having a library card, you can access a variety of databases and research sources from the Library's website. Anything from Arts & Entertainment to Test Preparation is readily awaiting your use.

(Don’t forget High School students with ACT test coming up the study guides and practice tests)

For the JCPS site, you do not need anything but a computer with internet access. Narrow your lessons by grade and content area. Some of the homework help tools may be cut-and-dry lessons, while some may have a game to go along with a lesson, like Math Baseball.

-Micah Followay, Shively-Newman Branch

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Great Historical Non-Fiction Reads 


Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer

In January 1692 in the small village of Salem, Massachusetts, the daughter and niece of the town’s minister, Reverend Parris, had fallen ill with strange symptoms. The young girls would speak in garbled words that no one could recognize, they would twitch and scratch and contort their bodies into abnormal shapes. The reverend and his wife were beside themselves as to how to care for the girls sudden disturbing symptoms, until an elderly town physician examined them and declared that the two were “under an evil hand” also known at the time as being bewitched.

Using startling facts, actual court transcripts, and striking black, white, and red scratch board illustrations, Witches: the absolutely true tale of disaster in Salem tells the story of the period of very dark days of the now infamous town of Salem. In the height of witch hysteria, over 100 individuals were accused of witchcraft and jailed. At least 20 were eventually executed. Brothers accused brothers, children accused parents, rich and poor alike were hauled off to jail to await trials that weren't based on any factual evidence but only on the dreams and visions of the accused.

This was a fascinating historical account that I recommend to anyone who has ever been curious about this dark period in history.



Cleopatra Rules! The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Cleopatra. Just her name summons images of other-worldly beauty and ruthless power. Undoubtedly one of the most famous female rulers in history, Cleopatra’s life hasn't always been portrayed in the most flattering of lights given that most of what we know about her came from the Romans, who hated and feared her. However, in Cleopatra Rules! we are offered a fresh and funny look at her life that strives to show Cleopatra’s point of view.

Peppered throughout the book are fascinating facts on Cleopatra and Egyptian life in general. For instance, did you know that Cleo was a hardcore book worm spending many hours of her youth at the Great Library of Alexandria? For a wedding present, Mark Anthony, instead of showering her with the customary jewels, plundered the library in Ephesus, Turkey for her. How romantic!

The author also has a way with words that’s sure to keep you amused, Mark Anthony was a “Roman Redneck,” and Cleo’s competitive siblings were a "a nest of squirming, hissing reality-show stars,” and Cleo herself was “as compelling as a giant magnet in a room full of nails.”

Cleopatra Rules! is a fun but informative trip through the life and times of the original teen queen, check it out from your local LFPL branch!

-Claire, Teen Services, Jeffersontown Library

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Cosplay: Subculture, Hobby or Way of Life? 
I’ve seen a variety of debates covering this subject. The only answer that doesn’t make me grimace or want to argue is the general answer “It depends on the person doing it.” I think that is the best answer, but the process of scanning these debates made me wonder about the narrow views that some people have of cosplay.


(Attendees from the Library's 10th annual Animecon try there hand at cosplay)

It’s not surprising for someone who isn’t familiar with cosplay to raise an eyebrow when they see someone “dressed up.” It begs the question, “Why are they dressed up?” What does surprise me is the number of people within the practice of cosplay that limit themselves and others on the broad array of cosplay to be experienced and shared.

Some cosplay arises from comic, anime and manga fandom. In that instance, it is often viewed as a subculture. The passion for particular characters arises out of a particular series or style; so, the cosplay is secondary or sub to the initial interest.

But how do you define it when the cosplay is a result of a passion for a particular movie or video game that doesn’t have a “culture”? What if the person makes one costume to bring to life one character that they love? That’s just plain old fandom, right?

Then there are people who bring to life multiple characters from multiple formats: movies, video games, novels, manga/anime, online comics. They don’t stick to any one series or format. The just bring to life the characters that grab their imagination and interest. I guess that becomes a hobby.

And hobby can also be applied to people that just love creating costumes. These people can be very singular in a style or origin for their costuming, or they can be interested in challenging themselves by seeing how many different types of costumes they can create.

Does that become a way of life? When does a hobby stop being just a hobby and become a way of life?

Is it when you become a “professional” cosplayer like, Jessica Nigri or Anna "Ormeli" Moleva? When you create your own company like Holly Conrad or Bill Doran? Or is it more gradual?

So, let’s revisit my original comment about some people viewing cosplay too narrowly. Within subcultures and fandoms there is a bad tendency to “turn up” the nose at people who are not in your particular clique. It seems counterproductive. The thing that makes a community thrive is its members. And you get more members by making the subculture, hobby or way of life inviting.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to at least allow for the appreciation of other types of cosplay? From what I’ve seen of the various types of cosplay, the most successful cosplayers and costume creators are those that at least study a broad array of what’s out there. If cosplayers of all types acknowledge and appreciate one another, it increases the chance that the world of cosplay will continue to grow and thrive.

I feel I must acknowledge and give credit to the cosplayers that already embrace this way of approaching cosplay. Not only are they helping to make it more mainstream, but they honestly seem to have more fun. That’s ultimately what it’s about, right? Having fun?

What do you think?

-Angel, Teen Services, Bon Air Regional Branch

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Teen Summer Reading Grand Prize 
The Library's Summer Reading is almost over. We are pleased to announce that this year's GRAND PRIZE will be an ASUS Transformer Pad TF300T. This awesome 10.1" tablet comes with a mobile dock and runs the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean 4.2). Click the image below for more device specifics.

Be sure to turn in your Teen Summer Reading Card before Saturday, August 10 to get your name in for the grand prize drawing.

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